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posted by mrpg on Wednesday July 18 2018, @03:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the gotta-attac dept.

Murder suspect due in U.S. court after DNA cracks open 1988 case

A 59-year-old Indiana man will be formally charged on Thursday with the 1988 murder of an eight-year-old girl after the decades-old cold case was cracked open by DNA evidence linked to a genealogical website, authorities said on Tuesday.

John Miller of Grabill, Indiana, was arrested in nearby Fort Wayne on Sunday after DNA evidence and records on publicly accessible genealogical websites helped investigators track him down. Investigators followed a pattern similar to that used to track down the "Golden State Killer" in California earlier this year.

Miller on Monday was preliminarily charged with murder, child molestation and confinement of someone under 14 years old, 30 years after eight-year-old April Tinsley was found dead in a ditch. He has been ordered held without bond.

If you don't hand over your DNA, you want child murderers to frolic in freedom.

Related: DNA From Genealogy Site Led to Capture of Golden State Killer Suspect
GEDmatch: "What If It Was Called Police Genealogy?"
DNA Collected from Golden State Killer Suspect's Car, Leading to Arrest
Another Alleged Murderer Shaken Out of the Family Tree
'Martyr of the A10': DNA Leads to France Arrests Over 1987 Murder
DNA Methylation Can Reveal Information About Criminal Suspects


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  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday July 18 2018, @08:33PM (7 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 18 2018, @08:33PM (#708980) Journal

    Squeaking of the system being faulty in the face of real evidence. I remember stories on Tech Dirt a few years back about (some poe-dunk) court(s) saying (effectively) that video evidence is less reliable than the police officer's report and sworn testiphony.

    My point about the test having two possible outcomes: If someone wants to withhold their DNA and isn't obligated to provide it, that is not evidence of their guilt of some crime. In fact, their DNA could prove they are innocent. But you can't forcibly take their DNA if state law requires you to burn them at the stake for withholding their DNA for comparison.

    What is the reason for statute of limitations laws? If someone committed a crime 30 years ago, wasn't it still a crime? Isn't there still a victim? (unless the crime was masturbation or something equally horrible)

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  • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Wednesday July 18 2018, @09:36PM (2 children)

    by captain normal (2205) on Wednesday July 18 2018, @09:36PM (#709015)

    The LEOs don't have to force you to give your DNA. If you or any close retaliative sent DNA to a genetic database (a public record base), that could narrow down the search quite a bit. The all they have to do is watch you till you toss a cigarette but or coffee cup or come by early on garbage day and grab the contents of your trash to extract DNA. Then you lose buddy. Actually this is what happened in this case.

    " The arrest affidavit said that police, using outside labs, compared DNA evidence with information on genealogical websites, which narrowed the search to Miller and his brother.

    Earlier this month, police began to watch Miller, and took three used condoms from his trash, the affidavit said." ---TFA

    IANAL but as far as I know there no statute of limitation for murder and kidnapping in this country.

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by sjames on Wednesday July 18 2018, @09:48PM (3 children)

    by sjames (2882) on Wednesday July 18 2018, @09:48PM (#709021) Journal

    There are multiple reasons for a statute of limitations.

    One is that after so much time, it is impossible to mount a defense. Pick a random non-special day 30 years ago. Do you remember for a fact if you were at work or not? Does anyone else? Could you even find any people who might remember if you were or were not at work that day?

    As to why that matters, you made a common but critical mistake in your post. DNA can NOT generally prove guilt. I know for a fact my DNA can be found in places I have never been to. I know that because I have sent mail before. There is little doubt my dna was on each and every letter and package I have ever sent. That guy that bumped into me this morning on the elevator? My DNA is on him. I did construction the summer after high school as a sort of change of pace. Since minor cuts are common, you will find my blood in several homes in the area, even inside the walls.

    It would be unjust to expect me today to recall where I was (that is not one of those homes) 30 years ago, there is only my word that I don't recall being in one of those homes after it was completed.

    The other reason is based on the claim that our penal system is justified by being rehabilitative in nature. That is, it is claimed that the purpose is so that people don't do it again (Hence the frequent use of "Department of Corrections", "correctional facility", etc). If the person has gone 30 years without committing another crime, they have arguably reformed already. Alternatively, if the only crime you can link a person to is that old, In the case of a singular crime, there's also that if the one and only crime you can link to a person is that long ago, and you have no other evidence of criminal activity, its a fair bet that you have the wrong person.

    • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Thursday July 19 2018, @02:11AM (2 children)

      by captain normal (2205) on Thursday July 19 2018, @02:11AM (#709144)

      True, but did you leave your DNA on the undies of an underage girl by 30 years ago? I don't see how something like that could explained by innocent circumstance, do you?

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      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Thursday July 19 2018, @03:05AM

        by sjames (2882) on Thursday July 19 2018, @03:05AM (#709177) Journal

        No, but only because I had my own washer and dryer so I didn't need the laundromat.

        I can't say what the thousands of other people who are of no relation but share a number of alleles in common might have done.

      • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Thursday July 19 2018, @06:30AM

        by hemocyanin (186) on Thursday July 19 2018, @06:30AM (#709247) Journal

        A. No.
        B. Think back on who you were 30 years ago -- you are probably almost a different person.
        C. Looking over your shoulder for 30 years is itself, punishment.